A question received here at Crimson Media often is the following: how do you do a great live broadcast? After all, the modern marketing world revolves around web streaming now. People are moving on to the web in record numbers, and so are brands and bands a like. With Facebook currently sitting at (insert number) the users are there, and a lot of them would most likely love to hear your music and watch your videos.
At Crimson Media Entertainment we have had a DIY attitude about learning how to broadcast. In the beginning, we didn’t know anything about webcasting, video capture software, or audio setups for live casts. But after several months of practice and research, a format became clear. You just need the right software and a bit of hardware to go live.
Today we decided to share a bit of wisdom to help you understand some of the basics of broadcasting on the web. Hopefully, you’ll have a better idea of how to get started and, as mentioned, DIY!
Let’s get started:
1. Capture Softeware: The first thing you’re going to need is capture software, because without it you’ll never be able to have a medium to get your data live. This is a bit different from Facebook live, which relies on your phone’s camera and microphone as a capture devices. However, you can do a lot better with software from Ustream or Livestream, two companies that offer software to both broadcast live and switch between video and audio capture devices. So if you’re pulling up videos or tracks, it will be as seamless as clicking on the video you want to play and having it take up the broadcast. In Facebook Live, this is much more difficult. So try out Ustream if you want Mac/PC or Livestream if you’re a PC user, and try their free demos. They are definitely worth learning about.
2: Upload Speeds: Broadcasting requires a lot of upload bandwidth. A lot of people find this out the hard way, because they try to broadcast and then their stream gets dropped in the middle. It’s a nightmare for the live streamer. What we recommend you do before you ever do you first broadcast is, test your internet speed. The link there will let you test your web speed. But keep in mind that while your download speed is important, your upload speed is what defines the quality of your broadcast. Most people have really bad upload speeds. Ours used to be 1.09mbps. To do even low-quality broadcasts, you need at least a solid 2.5mbps. And if you want to do 1080pi resolution, you’ll need upward of 6-7mbps. You absolutely must test your internet speeds before broadcast, and if it’s too low you need to contact your web provider and ask them what the fastest upload speed they offer is.
3. Capture Devices: In layman’ terms, capture devices are the cameras and microphones you use to do your broadcast. In capture software, each device is represented as a box in the interface. When you click on it, it goes live. For a visual, see the below image:
Also, when you set up capture devices to each of the cameras you also need to select an audio source. On Ustream, you can set up audio devices for each camera and usually you can centralize all the audio sources on a single audio capture device. For example, any audio interface that connects to your computer with a USB/Thunderbolt cable. It will read as a potential capture device, and you can connect several microphones into it at once. All your guests, instruments, and any other source of audio you need.
4. Buy a Channel: You can’t simply upload to your Facebook page or YouTube channel with programs like Ustream, you need a channel to broadcast through. Usually, it’s a monthly fee for this service. But it’s a great once, because you can broadcast 24/7 and have lots of upload storage for your videos. If you’re a big company, you can even buy plans with multiple channels. If you’re a big company, you can give a channel to all your shows! It’s a great system, and even if you only have one channel it will be a huge resource. Plus, it gives you optimization options for uploading and downloading, so even if your fans don’t have the connection you do the channel will change the broadcast to whatever speed works for their browser.
5. Set Upload Quality: Upload quality is a big issue, because as mentioned your upload speed will vary. If you want HD, it will have to be 6-7mbps. But, you don’t have to HD broadcast. If you want to cap out your Upload trade to a more traditional broadcast quality (720ppi for example.) Be sure to set up your speed on your channel for an appropriate rate, one that your web provider can handle. Also, test out your uploads before you ever broadcast! We cannot stress this enough: if you ever have a live stream, and it goes a down in the middle of a show, you will freak. Hard. Don’t do this untested!
6. Post the Video Player to your Social Media: Make sure you post your channel on every website that follows your page! It’s as easy as copy and pasting it into the wall, and the player becomes available to everyone on your Facebook or Twitter. From there, you can view how many fans are tuning in and even set up live chat features for it!
With this basic guide you should have all the starting blocks needed to get started. Remember, broadcast is an imperfect art. It’s never going to be as good as a recording or a film project. It’s less controlled, but that’s what’s fun about it. It’s like a live concert, shot out to the entire world at the same time. It’s a mirrracle of science!